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Publisher Description

Winner of the Booker Prize 2020
Shortlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction 2020
A BBC Two Between the Covers 2021 Book Choice

'We were bowled over by this first novel, which creates an amazingly intimate, compassionate, gripping portrait of addiction, courage and love.' The judges of the Booker Prize

'Douglas Stuart has written a first novel of rare and lasting beauty.' - Observer

It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest.

Shuggie is different. Fastidious and fussy, he shares his mother’s sense of snobbish propriety. The miners' children pick on him and adults condemn him as no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.

Douglas Stuart's Shuggie Bain lays bare the ruthlessness of poverty, the limits of love, and the hollowness of pride. A counterpart to the privileged Thatcher-era London of Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty, it also recalls the work of Édouard Louis, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, a blistering debut by a brilliant writer with a powerful and important story to tell.

Fiction & Literature
February 20
Pan Macmillan

Customer Reviews

Bell1952 ,

Shuggie Bain

The best book I’ve read in years. Douglas Stuart please hurry and write another book. One amazing read. ❤️

Gweeders 17 ,


I enjoyed reading this book and I felt quite saddened by the awful life that resulted from addiction to alcohol!
It was definitely an eye opener for me.
Sometimes comforting but, always the shadows are there!

FinZter ,

Raw, immersive, gripping and emotional

Although this novel is sad overall, the thread of humanity and love that is so deeply threaded through it fills the reader with a sense of hope and even redemption for the real protagonist who is Agnes rather than Shuggie Bain.
A true sense of place is artfully drawn through the superbly detailed viewpoints of the authentic characters that inhabit this narrative.
This is truly a fine first novel and a deserving recipient of the 2020 Booker Prize. I’d happily read whatever Douglas Stuart writes next. If he succeeds in bringing even half of the charm, humour and authenticity of these characters to any future inhabitants of his novels, they will be well worth a read.
I hope someone sees the value of bringing Shuggie Bain to our screens - this recent history of inner city Scottish life during and post Thatcher is one that isn’t often shown and deserves to be understood by a larger audience. To show it from such a close family perspective gives power and person to this dark period.
A solid, well deserved 5 star rating for this stunning debut.

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